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Go outside, absorb nature's inspiration

Now that the school year is in full swing, calendars are filling up with classes, events, homework, duties, lessons, competitive sports and other obligations.

Studies indicate contemporary life affords little discretionary time out of doors. This struck me, recently, on a rare trip back to my hometown, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Choked with traffic, it presents quite a contrast from my childhood. Then, families owned one or no cars, children bicycled for transportation or recreation, and playgrounds, parks and woodlands were havens for people to relax, play, explore and picnic. The commonest parental instruction for restless children in those days was "go outside and play."

Of course, that era was prior to television, certainly pre-Internet and pleasures were often experienced rather than bought. Now, more affluence keeps many children and adults "safely"  ensconced indoors or closely supervised outdoors.

An eye opening book, "Last Child in the Woods, Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder," by Richard Louv (2005), is well worth reading. Shining a light on the consequences of alienation from nature it draws from decades of studies that demonstrate serious losses for people, children in particular. The author has an uncanny ability to weave information into coherent patterns, alarming for what they indicate and portend about the physical, emotional and spiritual health of American families and communities.

Inextricably linked to nature is creativity, the power of wonder that unites us as sentient beings and inspires us to live in peace and protect each other. In general, artists have a deep dedication to and awareness of this shared inner wealth.

How fortunate we are to live among a large number of artists here in western Wisconsin with its rolling hills, glistening fields and plentiful rivers. As autumn regales us with resplendent color don't forget to play in the leaves. And, as writer and poet Gary Snyder intones, "Above all, we need human beings who love the world."

Current arts events and opportunities (free unless otherwise noted - please confirm details):

Continuing through Saturday, Oct. 15, Peter Bougie, paintings and Nora Koch, photographs at UW-River Falls Chalmer Davee Library

Continuing through Sunday, Oct. 16, Elements of Glass at the River Falls Public Library

Friday, Sept. 30, 7:30 p.m.: Sue West, Joe Fishbein and Norm Solberg at Earth Angels Coffeehouse, 321 N. Second St., 715-425-7504. Also, Fridays, Oct. 7 and Nov. 4, 7:30 p.m., Denny Cooper and guests.

Friday, Sept. 30, 6:30 p.m.: Opening reception, Main Galleries at The Phipps Center for the Arts, 109 Locust St., Hudson

Wednesday, Oct. 5, 3:30-5:30 p.m.: Opening reception and talk by Trever Nicholas about his installation Polymorphic Membranes, UW-RF Gallery 101, Kleinpell Fine Arts Building

Friday, Oct. 7, 5-9 p.m.: First Friday Opening reception at SEASONS on St. Croix, Second Street, Hudson

Openings at Kelley Gallery, Hudson,

Saturday, Oct. 8, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 9, noon to 5 p.m.: Western Wisconsin Pottery Tour featuring 14 artists at River Falls locations. Brochures available, 115 Lewis St., or River Falls Chamber of Commerce

Saturday, Oct. 8, 5-9 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 9, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Hammond Arts Alliance presents Spirit, art show featuring nine area artists at Foster Art Vault (basement of Associated Bank), downtown Hammond. Tin Pan Alley Cats play 8 to 11 p.m., Saturday at the Hammond Hotel. For more information send an email to

Concerts by UW-RF music dept. (at Abbott Concert Hall, Kleinpell Fine Arts Center):

Saturday, Oct. 8, 7:30 p.m., Instrumental Music Homecoming Concert

Sunday, Oct. 9, 3 p.m., Homecoming Choral Concert

Sunday, Oct. 16, 3 p.m., Trio St. Croix

Thursday, Oct. 20, 7:30 p.m., UW-RF Band

Saturday, Oct. 22, 7:30 p.m., RADD Jazz Series Presents UW-RF Jazz Ensemble

Sunday, Oct. 23, 3 p.m., Piano Monster Concert

Saturday, Oct. 8, 7:30 p.m.: Organ concert featuring Ron Reseigh and Saturday, Oct. 15, 7:30 p.m.: Pop Wagner and guests in concert at The Phipps Center for the Arts, for tickets call 715-386-8409 or go to

Friday, Oct. 14, 4-8 p.m.: Opening reception for A Hasel Affair, pottery by Bob Hasel and Hasel family artists at Gallery 120, 120 N. Main, River Falls. Sponsored by Global M.A.D.E. and Interior Designs

Tuesday, Oct. 18, 7:30-10:30 p.m.: Local Musicians Night Out, Sneakers Pub & Eatery, S 119 McKay Ave., Spring Valley, LMNO is a monthly (third Tuesday) open mike for musicians, singers, and other performers. Free and open to the public; John Lenarz, host; 715-778-4200.

Saturday, Oct. 23, 7 p.m.: RF Community Arts Base and RF Parks and Recreation begin the fifth year of Community Barn Dances with music by the Barn Cats at River Falls Academy. Tickets at the door.

Call for artists: RFPL's annual all-community art show Nov. 6 to Dec. 11, seeks artist submissions of two and three dimensional work, framed or mounted, ready to hang or display and not previously displayed at the gallery. Drop off submissions Nov. 1 and 2, 10 a.m. to 4p.m. Artists limited to three pieces. Call Jera at 715-426-3496 for more information.